Check It Out

Eclectic Books by Europa Editions

Europa!
europa collage

Known for its distinctive bold covers, Europa Editions is an Italian press that has been taking America by storm. From its website: “The Europa catalog is eclectic, reflecting the founders’ belief that dialogue between nations and cultures is of vital importance and that this exchange is facilitated by literature chosen not only for its ability to entertain and fascinate but also to inform and enlighten.”


Find a book that interests you!

The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price
Cooking with Fernet Branca
Replay

 

The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones

Wilfred Price, overcome with emotion on a sunny spring day, proposes to a girl he barely knows at a picnic. The girl, Grace, joyfully accepts and rushes to tell her family of Wilfred’s intentions. But by this time Wilfred has realized his mistake. He does not love Grace. On the verge of extricating himself, Wilfred’s situation suddenly becomes more serious when Grace’s father steps in. As Wilfred struggles in an increasingly tangled web of expectation and duty, love and lies, Grace reveals a long-held secret that changes everything.

Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson

Gerald Samper, an effete English snob, has his own private hilltop in Tuscany, where he wiles away his time working as a ghostwriter for celebrities and inventing wholly original culinary concoctions. Gerald’s idyll is shattered by the arrival of Marta, on the run from a crime-riddled former soviet republic. A series of hilarious misunderstandings brings this odd couple into ever closer and more disastrous proximity.

Replay by Marc Levy
On the morning of July 9, 2012, New York Times investigative reporter Andrew Stilman is jogging alongside the Hudson River when he feels a sudden, sharp pain in his lower back. He collapses in a pool of blood. When he regains consciousness, it’s May 7–two months earlier. Stilman now has only sixty days to find out who wants him dead and why until his killer finds him again.

 The Days of Abandonment book cover
A Novel Bookstore book cover
The Life of Elves book cover

 

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Once an aspiring writer, Olga traded literary ambition for marriage and motherhood; when Mario dumps her after 15 years, she is utterly unprepared. Though she tells herself that she is a competent woman, nothing like the poverella (poor abandoned wife) that mothers whispered about in her childhood, Olga falls completely apart.

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse

A mysterious death, unusual car accident, and anonymous threats have one thing in common– the victims are all members of the Good Novel bookstore’s secret selection committee. Set in Paris, this tale combines mystery, romance, and French theology and literature.

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery tells the story of two children whose extraordinary talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history.

See more titles on our Pinterest board!

New Book Spotlight: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire

Descender_Tin StarsA boy named Tim wakes from a ten-year sleep on a moon mining colony. He is a companion android designed to entertain and protect an assigned human child, but he finds himself alone and under attack. Tin Stars, the first collected volume of the Descender series by Jeff Lemire, begins with shocking galactic catastrophe, but it’s when we meet the earnest young Tim-21 that it truly launches.

A grown-up story of both wonder and action, real fears of technology-run-amok are balanced with complex character and heart. In addition to a plot that excites the mind, the gorgeous watercolor illustrations by Dustin Nguyen evoke a nuanced future both beautiful and terrible. The end result is a fully-realized shared vision, one that transports, provokes, and captivates.

 

Staff Picks: Duets II by Tony Bennett

Picture of DonnaListen to the sound recording Duets II by Tony Bennett for an auditory treat. This talented artist has joined with 17 popular vocalists and musicians for a wonderful album. Hear Norah Jones, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Willie Nelson and several others. Try Duets, also, by Tony Bennett for more great listening pleasure.

Three to Try: Meet Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison author photo

The lushly talented Toni Morrison does not lack for award recognition.  Among her many honors are the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1988), the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012). This month she adds one more, the PEN/Saul Bellow for Achievement in American Fiction, for work which the panel calls “revelatory, intelligent, bold.” If you haven’t yet been introduced, attempting to begin with the well-recognized but difficult Beloved or Song of Solomon might be challenging. Allow us to suggest three alternate pathways to make her acquaintance.

God Help the Child book coverGod Help the Child

A searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love.

Why start here? Morrison’s most recent work, and her first set in current time, underscores many of her trademark themes in a concise but powerful 178 pages.

Sula book coverSula

Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. Nel and Sula meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret, but will it withstand a betrayal?

Why start here? Another short work (174 p.), this is a deceptively simple narrative about a character who overcomes tragedies to reinvent herself as a bold, sensual, unapologetic individual at a time when women were expected to know their places.

Jazz book coverJazz

Set in 1926, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Jazz follows the lives of Joe and Violet Vace, who have moved from the South to escape the hardships of segregation. They find a city throbbing with the music that represents both artistic freedom and moral decline, an environment that sets the backdrop for Joe’s murder of his teenage lover as well as the shocking events that follow.

Why start here? Slightly longer (229 p.), but still a richly compact sampling of Morrison’s skill in depicting complicated characters and emotions in few, expertly chosen words.  The influence of jazz music suffuses both setting and structure, and the themes reverberate long after the final note.

Fiction: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

A Bollywood Affair cover Mili was married when she was four, and now twenty years later she has not seen or heard from her husband since. Now, she is determined to make herself a better wife in hopes of winning over her husband. How will she do it? By moving away from India to America for 8 months to improve her skills through study. Enter Samir, the brother of her husband and technically her brother-in-law. Fiercely loyal, Samir is determined to protect his brother, but is quick to learn Mili may not be who he thought she was. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev mixes clever characters with a friendship that turns steamy to create a funny and romantic romp of a tale.

Book Discussion Questions: The Brethren by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong

The Brethren book coverTitle:  The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court
Author:  Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong
Page Count: 467 pages
Genre: Nonfiction
Tone:  Journalistic, Fast-Paced
Summary:

The first detailed behind-the-scenes account of the Supreme Court in action, Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong have pierced its secrecy to give us an unprecedented view of the Chief and Associate Justices—maneuvering, arguing, politicking, compromising and making decisions that affect every major area of American life.

 

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

1. Before reading this book, were you familiar with the structure of the U.S. Supreme Court?

2. Why do you think Woodward opened the book detailing newly appointed Chief Justice Burger’s changes to the courtroom, clerk communications, etc.? Were you surprised at how antiquated some of the Courts’ procedures were in 1969?

3. Why were some of the Justices concerned about their portrayal in the media (e.g., Justice Marshall on page 51)?

4. Does it make sense why someone who is appointed by a “conservative” president or a “liberal” president may seem to make an about-face once on the Court. Do you think that is how C.J. Burger was perceived (for instance in his role regarding school desegregation, when he may have wanted to follow the Nixon administration’s policy of “reasonable delay” (page 56) but instead issued a two page per curiam (an opinion of the court with no designated author) ordering immediate desegregation (page 55)?

5. In the past Supreme Court nominees were usually approved by the Senate; rarely were they rejected. In more recent years (since LBJ’s time) the Senate has seemed more willing to reject Supreme Court nominees. What do you think of this trend?

6. What was your impression of Burger? Do you think it was a good strategy to almost always go along with the majority in order that he could assign who wrote the opinions?

7. Do you feel Woodward portrayed C.J. Burger fairly?

8. Do you agree that the C.J. should be concerned with how the media portrays him and how he is perceived by the public and to “view cases as purely political” as Stewart accused him of on page 72?

9. Do you agree that Justices should be appointed for life? Why is or isn’t this a good idea?

10. The Brethren is often assigned to first year law students. Why do you think that is? Do you think it is a good book for future lawyers to read? Why or why not?

11. According to the authors much of the information presented in The Brethren was garnered through interviews with former clerks. How do you feel about the apparent breach of confidentiality? Do you think it’s good or bad for the Supreme Court to operate in relative secrecy?

12. Did reading this book make you feel differently about the importance of the Supreme Court nomination process?

13. This book was first published in 1979, covering events from 1969-1975. How much has changed in the Supreme Court since then? How much hasn’t changed?

Other Resources

Woodward and Armstrong’s response to allegation about lack of evidence
Bob Woodward’s Website
Read a reader’s review
Commentary Magazine on The Brethren
About The Supreme Court

Readalikes

Just-MercyBecoming Justice Blackmun book cover Supreme Conflict book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Becoming Justice Blackmun by Linda Greenhouse
Supreme Conflict by Jan Crawford Greenburg

Staff Picks: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Gold Fame Citrus book coverCarol from Community Services suggests Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Armed vigilantes have prevented these desert refugees from freely crossing borders to lusher regions. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

When Luz and Ray cross paths with a mysterious child, they set out for the safety of the east. But they are waylaid by a cult that has formed a colony in a mysterious sea of dunes.

In this hyper-lyrical dystopian fantasy, you can feel the sand between your teeth, the dirt crawling on your skin, and the taste of precious black-market fruit. The quest for gold and fame and citrus has fueled our drive west for centuries. In Watkins’ novel the west is a place where our ambitions and limitations give rise to a whirling cloud of dust that can either engulf or redeem, and shows us a way to hope in a precarious future that may be our own.

For more dystopian literature try…

Oryx and Crake book cover
The Year of the Flood book cover
MaddAdam book cover

 

Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAdam make up a three-book series on the effects of genetic engineering and environmental disaster. Through expert world-building and strange but sympathetic characters, Atwood asks us to think about how technology and society will continue to influence each other.

Life as We Knew It book cover

 

While Life as We Knew It is a young adult novel, author Susan Beth Pfeffer captures the attention of all ages as she imagines what would happen on earth if a meteor knocked the moon out of orbit.

 

 

 

A Canticle for Leibowitz book cover

 

Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz set a standard for dystopian literature. In this post-apocalyptic tale, the human race starts over again after a nuclear catastrophe. But can we keep from making the same mistakes the second time around?

Introducing Five New Discussion Kits!

Picture of book bags

The Library offers 31 book discussion kits that can be checked out (one at a time) for your book discussion group. Five of those kits are brand new, ready to take reservations or be checked out! Take a look at the five new titles below and learn more about our Book Bags for Book Groups.

Elizabeth is Missing coverElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Necessary Lies book coverNecessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Cover of Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Staff Pick: Beatlebone by Kevin Barry

Picture of NancyIf you are in the mood to read something unique, I recommend Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. In this inventive novel, a late-1970s John Lennon is creatively blocked and sets off to find his private island off the coast of Ireland. I loved the unexpected detours, poetic language, and dreamlike setting. Beatles-fandom is helpful but certainly not required to enjoy this surreal story.

Asked at the Desk: What Should I Read Next?

Picture of Fiction/AV/Teen desk

What Should I Read Next?

This is one of our favorite questions, and today we wanted to share one of our favorite databases to assist in answering this question: NoveList!

NoveList is a great search engine website to find books that you are in the mood to read as well as readalikes for your favorite authors or books.  One of our favorite recent additions to the site is the appeal mixer. So, if you want a romantic book with broody characters or an upbeat book with racy humour, while you can always ask us to help you find options, you can explore NoveList, too!

As a Mount Prospect Library cardholder, you can use this professional website whenever, wherever, and at no cost. You can access NoveList HERE, in the web resources. Once you have entered your library card information and have entered NoveList, here’s how to get to the appeal mixer…

On the top of the page, hover your mouse over the words Browse By. Choose the category Appeal.

appeal

You will then land on the appeal mixer page where you can create different combinations of types of character, illustration, pace, storyline, tone, and writing style:picture of Novelist Appeal mixerThe more general you are in what you choose for your appeal mix, the more results you will receive. While we do not own every book that will come up on your search, we can always look into different ways we can get that title into your hands!

If you’re having trouble getting NoveList to work or would like us to come up with book suggestions for you please ask either in person, by calling the Library, or online. Have fun exploring!